BIGFORK — Friday night, Bigfork will be the host of the Western B conference title game between the Vikings and Missoula Loyola.
Bigfork and Loyola have had fierce battles on the gridiron over the past few seasons and have the makings of another great game this week.
“We get up for Loyola, Loyola gets up for Bigfork,” Bigfork head coach Todd Emslie said. “It’s just one of those deals and we love playing that game, as well.”
Loyola brings in one of Class B’s most intimidating offenses, led by University of Montana commit Ryan Tirrell. Bigfork’s defense, led by standout middle linebacker Logan Gilliard, has been suffocating all season. Focusing on Tirrell and Loyola’s ground attack will be key for the Vikings.
“They’ve got a good running back out there,” Bigfork running back Randy Stultz said of his counterpart. “But I feel like our defense learned a lot this week and we’re going to go back, work hard. I don’t know, it’ll be a good game.”
“They’re just a good team. We’ve got to stop the run game, they’ve got some big linemen,” Gilliard said. “So it’ll be a good game, fun.”
But the Rams have more than just Tirrell on offense. Emslie is worried about the Loyola offense as a whole and the mismatches that the Rams can create in space.
“There’s another team that’s very well-coached and they don’t make a lot of mistakes,” Emslie said. “They’re solid on the line. They’ve got a couple quality kids. More than a couple, but they’ve got a couple that are just devastating. They can rack up some points in a hurry.”
It’s not just a conference championship at stake for Bigfork on Friday night. Loyola has been a mainstay late in the Class B playoffs, reaching the semifinals each of the past three seasons and finishing runner-up in 2016. During that span, the Vikings have failed to beat the Rams.
“Since I’ve been a freshman, or in high school, I’ve never beat Loyola,” Stultz said. “They’re coming up to our home field, it’s going to be a big one. We want that revenge.”
Bigfork seeks revenge in the battle for the Western B. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. on Friday night in Bigfork.